Saturday, September 08, 2007

Day Four - Claresholm to Lethbridge

We made it.... the final day of our ride.... 

We planned on a little later start today.... although we decided to get up and going early just in case the weather was bad.  It was great to wake up and look outside to see BLUE SKY!!!!  YES!....

We drove back to our starting point and got everything ready to go.... today we had extra support crew.  My good friend Jean, who really wanted to be out riding with us… Cindy (my wife) and Jackie (the head of Tim’s support team and todays team photographer)..... We were going to meet another rider (Peter Kwan) in Fort Macleod. We headed out at an easy pace, then gradually picked it up.  The plan was to be in Lethbridge just before two so we could make the Regional Hospital by 2PM....  I started out riding beside Tim and we chatted a bit....  his pace was a bit fast for me so I dropped back and rode with OJ....  he matched my pace (as he did the last three days although I know he could have easily left me behind - except for going down the hills) We chatted and had a few laughs.... time passed very quickly and the sunshine felt great.... it was so nice to have a beautiful day to finish our ride.  We passed the support crew numerous times.... a lot of pictures were taken ( thanks Jax)..... and we had some laughs.... Before we knew it we were in Fort Macleod.  We stopped to wait for Peter and Kate ( OJ’s support team member) and to fuel our bodies for the last leg of our ride.

Kate showed up shortly after we stopped..... but Peter was no where around..... we waited a little longer, then decided we had to head out if we wanted to make it in by 2 PM. We headed out into a little bit more of a headwind...but that soon settled down and we managed to get our speed back up above 30 km/h.  Shortly after leaving Fort Macleod we saw Peter and another rider unloading their bikes on the side of the road.  We stopped for a second then headed back out figuring they would easily catch us. Tim managed to pull away again as OJ and I road at our slower pace.  A little further down the road we saw a few dirt bikers visiting with our support crew (we found out later that the girls - at least a couple of them - were flirting with the young riders) These riders then put on a show for us all as they popped up on their back wheels and flew down the road for a km or so.... it’s amazing what they were doing on the gravel roads and through the ditches on one wheel.  Soon they were gone and we realized we had picked up speed..... we were cruising at 37 km/h I had figured Peter and the other rider would catch us quickly - but we were riding at a good pace and although they were catching up, they were still a ways behind us.

When OJ and I got to the river valley by Monarch we were still by ourselves.....  I rolled on ahead because I go a lot faster downhill than OJ....and he goes a LOT faster uphill than I do..... I needed the head start so he wouldn’t have wait too long for me.....  I got way ahead on the downhill and almost half way up on the east side of the river before OJ caught me.... then Peter caught me as we arrived at the top..... I stopped to make a phone call and the rider (Reese) that came with Peter caught us. I made my call to arrange our escort into Lethbridge, then we were back on the bikes.  The four of us rode together to Coalhurst where we met our escort - the fire and ambulance crew from #1 Fire Hall. 

We visited briefly then made our plans for getting to the hospital.  The escort began....but quickly came to a halt just a short time later as Reese had a problem with his bike that caused him to bump into my back wheel… while I managed to regain control of my bike, Reese was not so lucky.... he crashed hard.  Thankfully he was only scraped up a bit....but he had hit hard enough to crack his helmet (which we are all thankful he was wearing!!) After making sure he was OK we loaded him and his bike into the motor home and had them take him home.... then we continued on our way. 

The rest of the ride went smoothly and we rolled up to the Chinook Regional Hospital right on time....  There were a few people outside waiting for us....and a few more inside..... The first person I saw was my dad so I headed over to say hi and give him a hug.  We were then all greeted by Tina from the Chinook Regional Hospital Foundation, then I was asked to do a few interviews and had some photos taken....  more people arrived to welcome us..... I was able to present Tina with a check for $3200 for the Foundation with more to come this week. We then visited with family and friends who had come to see us. More photos and then we said goodbye to the Fire Fighters and everyone else..... Another ride completed..... 

Although the ride is over you can still make donations to the Chinook Regional Hospital Foundation..... We do REALLY need the radiation units in Lethbridge as soon as possible.  And let’s not forget about the annual prostate exams and PSA tests!!!  September is prostate cancer awareness month - come on guys, get tested!!

Until next time....

Posted by John on 09/08 at 11:34 PM
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Friday, September 07, 2007

Day Three - Calgary to Claresholm

We woke early this morning to cloudy skies and hopes for a better day than yesterday.  We were trying to get on the road early in hopes of avoiding some highway traffic and maybe even beating any bad weather....  we seem to have been successful at both.

We ate breakfast while driving to our starting point for the day to save some time..... and this morning, we actually got started on time.  Quite an accomplishment for us.  We were down to three riders with hopes of one or two more joining us tomorrow.

The ride started of quite well.... after a fast start I slowed to a comfortable pace (so I could finish the day), which was still much faster than I have expected.  We had quite a few hills to get through early in the ride - at least our legs were fresh at that point.  We also had a nice tail wind....  My comfortable pace was slower than Tims and he started to pull away from OJ and I.....but we were still doing over 30 km/h so we just settled in and watched Tim pull away.  We caught up at a few water stops, and planned a lunch stop in Nanton.... 

We arrived in Nanton well ahead of schedule thanks to the tailwind and being able to keep up our pace.  We hit a fruit stand and got some fresh fruit for lunch (also talked to a couple about our ride and about prostate cancer) and then had a quick visit at the Nanton Lancaster Society Air Museum.... Its a quite an interesting place and we’ll have to go back when we have a more time - today we wanted to finish early so that we could spend some time with our friends and family after stopping in Claresholm.

After our break we headed we continued our ride south.... the wind had shifted so we now had a mild cross/headwind.... it wasn’t too bad and our speed varied from 25 to 30 km/h for the rest of the ride.  Once again Tim got into a good rhythm and pulled away from OJ and I.... Dark clouds were building up behind us, so we pushed a little harder and finished up early in Claresholm....  Shortly after our arrival there we heard that it was raining in Calgary and just south of there.... we had managed to stay out of it!!!  Now if we can just get some good weather for tomorrow....

Until next time....

Posted by John on 09/07 at 11:08 PM
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Thursday, September 06, 2007

Day Two - Red Deer to Calgary

What an UGLY day for riding..... 

We started of this morning with breakfast at the hotel we stayed at last night....  At breakfast, Tim and Dave asked OJ and I where we were during the fire alarm and subsequent evacuation of the hotel....  We just looked at them and said “What alarm?” Either we slept through it, which I doubt, or the alarm didn’t sound in our wing....  They even got a phone call to leave their room.... we didn’t....  Thankfully it was a false alarm!

After breakfast we headed out to our starting point… it had rained over night but was drying.... and it was quite cool....  We got the ride started and were doing quite well - we had a good tailwind and were going at a good pace.  Lots of hills to climb, so it was nice to have the boost.  It was pretty cool, so we stopped to layer up a bit.... while we were doing that, it started to rain on went the rain coats and off we went.  Well...the sky opened up on us....and with the heavy traffic and the spray coming off the big trucks I suggested we stop riding.... We all headed into the motor home and warmed up.... we pulled up to a safe place off the highway and decided to sit it out for a bit....waiting for the rain to subside....  that just wasn’t going to happen, so I decided rather than getting hurt, we would skip a portion of the ride and try to get out of the system… a short way down the highway and we were back on the bikes.  It was getting colder as the wind was out of the north, but we were making good time.  Of course, the sky opened up again, but traffic had settled down, so we continued to ride.

When we reached our stopping point it was still pouring - but with ice crystals as well.... it was starting to hurt so it was a good time to be stopping.  We packed up the bikes.... got into some warm dry clothes.... and wouldn’t you know it - the sun came out and the sky cleared.  We had a change in drivers at this point, so we had to catch the ‘New Guy’ (Ryan) up on what has been going on the past couple of days.... we spent a good hour visiting and having some good laughs.  We then said goodbye to Chris and he headed back to Lethbridge.  Thanks Chris for taking the time to help us out!

Hopefully we will get some better weather over the next couple of days.....  we plan on an early start tomorrow so that we can hopefully avoid some of the traffic out of Calgary.... and maybe even get out ahead of the forcast rain for tomorrow afternoon - but then, today was supposed to be only partly cloudy!!

Until next time....

Posted by John on 09/06 at 10:57 PM
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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Day One - Edmonton to Red Deer…..

Day one began much as expected.... everybody getting up and ready to go on time and then slowly falling behind schedule. Then we got into a chat about the ride and all of a sudden we are really behind schedule.... then driving to our starting point we were held up by a Motor Vehicle Collision and were down to 1 lane instead of 4.... We finally got to the starting point and after last minute adjustments we were on our way.

The traffic out of Edmonton is INCREDIBLE.  The noise is so loud that we had to yell at each other just to be heard.... The ride was mostly uneventful....lots of highway traffic....a few stops to top up water and to eat.....  One of the most interesting things that happened today was finding a kayak in the ditch.  Tim and Dave were riding together when Tim pulled up.... I thought something was wrong and we all stopped as Tim went back for a look.... Sure enough there was a kayak in the tall grass.... in great shape....  Of course, there was no way to do anything with it as four guys on bikes can’t really carry a kayak....  We sent Chris back in the motor home to take a look and he said he didn’t see obviously someone came along and picked it up - hopefully the owner.

The roads are pretty hilly up this way.... nothing major, but when you haven’t been riding much....and you’ve done 100+ km’s.... the legs were getting pretty tired.  But we made it.  It was a great feeling to get day one out of the way. 

Until next time....

Posted by John on 09/05 at 10:11 PM
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Tuesday, September 04, 2007


Well, it’s been quite the day.....

It started off with a telephone interview with “The Lounge 94.1 FM” then a call to confirm an interview with the local Shaw Cable people...then a phone call from “The River 107.7 FM” and another interview....then Shaw came… all the while I was trying to get the motor home packed.... Needless to say, I was a little behind when the rest of the gang showed up to head out....

Dave, Chris (our driver/support person for the first couple of days) and I headed up to Calgary to pick up Tim.... getting the late start brought us into Calgary late.... traffic was heavy, but when isn’t it in Calgary....  We got Tim loaded up… then dropped Dave’s car off.... then we all headed for Edmonton.... a short stop in Red Deer for fuel and a quick bite to eat and we were back on the road.  We made it to our hotel in Edmonton, but not without a tour of the new road system in Edmonton....  We finally got checked in and OJ arrived to take me out for groceries and a quick tour. 

The day was pretty uneventful....but was long.....  Morning will be here early, so it’s off to bed.... Day 1 of 4 tomorrow.....  It should be interesting!

Until next time....

Posted by John on 09/04 at 11:45 PM
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